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Dr. John Niblack speaks to students at the 2022 Niblack Research Scholars Day.

Niblack Research Scholars program announces newest class

Friday, October 21, 2022

Media Contact: Harrison Hill | Senior Research Communications Specialist | 405-744-5827 |

Research at Oklahoma State University starts the minute students step foot on campus. For 10 students, their careers are being accelerated through the Niblack Research Scholars program.

These undergraduates have been selected as Niblack Research Scholars for the 2022-23 school year, earning them an $8,000 scholarship and the opportunity to conduct research with faculty across campus.

Funded by Dr. John Niblack and his wife, Heidi, the Niblack Research Scholars program has been a key part of OSU’s undergraduate research success for 18 years. The program allows these students to perform cutting-edge research in various fields under the supervision of faculty mentors.

Niblack graduated from OSU in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and earned a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Illinois before becoming vice chairman of Pfizer Inc.

As a scientist for the international pharmaceutical giant, he was responsible for Pfizer’s Global Research and Development Division, where he directed research into drugs for viral illnesses, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Niblack retired in 2002 and founded the Niblack Research Scholarship program in 2004.

In his opening remarks at last year’s Niblack student presentations, Niblack spoke about his work, how long research really takes — including the depth of research behind the new COVID-19 vaccine — and the possibility of failure.

“My Ph.D. thesis was exactly a failed situation,” he said. 

His thesis was supposed to be an expansion on work done by another student; however, that student had falsified data that sent Niblack in the wrong direction.

“It took me 18 months of failure, going to all kinds of experts and doing all kinds of things to finally convince myself that the guy had faked his data,” he said.

Niblack had to pivot his project, so he worked out another subproject involving much of the same research, he said.

“However, I made it, so don’t give up,” Niblack said. 

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